Posted on Tuesday 31st July
The inaugural Timber festival in the National Forest met with great applause and enthusiasm when it took place in Feanedock Woods near Ashby de la Zouch earlier this month.
Around 4,000 people gathered from throughout the UK to experience what has been called “an enchanting weekend in the woods with surprises around every corner”, “a blissful escape”, “a cross between a festival and a retreat”, “welcoming, friendly and encouraging”. The festival received five-star ratings on Facebook.
Music, arts, thought-provoking talks and woodland fun was the order of the day. International artist Jony Easterby performed his new Tree and Wood sound and light show in a woodland glade; award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane shared his Wilderness Tracks, music that shapes his work and life, in conversation in the Field Notes barn; and President of the Ramblers organisation and BBC Radio 6 Music’s Stuart Maconie gave the festival’s keynote address.
It was a festival of contrasts: quiet and exhilarating, calm and energetic, inspiring and practical. Festival-goers took part in den building and bug hunts to building their own woodland playground; explored the coppice maze, relaxed in hammocks amongst the trees and took early morning yoga sessions. There were aerial acrobatics in the trees, theatre performances promenading through the woods, forest monsters designed by local schoolchildren hidden in the glades; not to mention the moth hotel, Bhangra dancing and the chance to bathe in a hot tub overlooking the wider National Forest landscape.
As evening drew in, the Timber woodland was transformed: people gathered to hear music and stories around the campfire, were mesmerised by the fire garden, stood transfixed under Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, a giant illuminated moon hanging amongst the trees.
John Everitt, Chief Executive, National Forest Company, said: “In creating Timber, we wanted to inspire our audiences with the story of the National Forest, how it has transformed the landscape, the economy and people’s lives. Thousands of people enjoyed a brilliant weekend full of forest experiences, tried new things, relaxed amongst the trees, spent time with their families in the open spaces and woodland glades. We were thrilled with the programme our partners Wild Rumpus created with us and look forward to getting next year’s festival underway.”
New projects will come out of Timber. The National Forest Company offered a Forest Bathing training bursary for an individual to bring this sought-after therapeutic practice to the National Forest; and the festival, along with Making Local Woods Work, selected a project through a dragon’s den type pitching process for a local wood to develop an entrepreneurial project.
New and long-standing National Forest partners supported Timber in many ways. James Latham Ltd supplied thousands of pounds worth of sustainable timber to make breathtaking stages for the wide range of music, bands and DJ sets; local company Reabrook Ltd supported the production of beautiful light cubes that reflected the heart of the Forest’s industrial past by illuminating old photographs of the coal mines and clay pits; Forest Holidays’ rangers led woodland survival sessions and den building whilst Ecotricity showcased renewable energy.
Timber was created by the National Forest Company with partners Wild Rumpus, award-winning producers of the Just So festival.
Sign up for the Timber newsletter at www.timberfestival.org.uk to find out more about Timber 2019.